Behind the Cup

McDonald's and Coffee Sustainability

At McDonald's, we're committed to bringing you great-tasting coffee and espresso brewed from high quality coffee beans. At the same time, we realize that when it comes to coffee sourcing — where we get our beans and the farmers who grow them — it's important that we think about the long-term impacts of coffee production and trading.

Explore McDonald's sustainable coffee report to learn more!
37% of our global coffee purchases were verified sustainable in 2015

Globally, we're committed to sourcing coffee responsibly, and we're focusing our efforts in two primary ways.

Buying verified sustainable coffee. Globally in 2015, about 37% of our total coffee bean purchases were from Rainforest Alliance Certified™, Fair Trade USA or UTZ Certified farms. The majority of our certified coffee purchases are from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, including 100% of our espresso in the U.S. and Canada, all McDonald’s coffee served in Brazil and all of our coffee in Australia and New Zealand. McDonald's markets in Europe source 100% of their coffee—with the exception of decaf—from farms that are Rainforest Alliance Certified, UTZ Certified or Fair Trade International.

Investing in farmer training: McDonald's USA, McDonald's Canada and their Franchisees invested more than $6 million over 4.5 years in farmer technical assistance. Learn more below.

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More than 95% of our global coffee purchases are Arabica beans from Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Sumatra.

We're supporting sustainable coffee—and farmers

While our goal to advance coffee sustainability is global, our efforts begin locally. McDonald’s has partnered with TechnoServe, an international non-profit and agricultural technical assistance provider, to train nearly 15,000 farmers in Guatemala in sustainable coffee-growing practices since launching the coffee technical assistance program in 2012. The initial results speak for themselves: participating farmers reported harvesting 48%* bigger yields than their neighbors despite difficult weather conditions and widespread Coffee Rust disease. Their crops are also earning a higher sustainability score.

We are also building industry-wide capacity by offering the farmer training curriculum developed by SCAN (Sustainable Commodities Assistance Network), a global network of 17 leading organizations promoting sustainable agriculture including UN agencies, certification programs and research institutions, for free on International Trade Centre's SustainabilityXchange website, as well as the SCAN's. Recognizing the long term impact of these programs, we will continue monitoring the impact of these trainings through the spring of 2017 and will update our reports accordingly.

* Initial results for participating farmers through 2015-16 harvest. We will continue to track performance over time and as we do this figure will vary.

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Sustainable practices help improve bean quality and lead to long-term supply availability.

Meet the People

By working with TechnoServe, McDonald's is helping farmers in Guatemala develop sustainable farming practices.

Meet a few of the coffee farmers participating in the farmer training program with TechnoServe.

  • The Farmer

    The Farmer

    Meet Sandra Lopez, a Guatemalan coffee farmer carrying on the family tradition of coffee farming. As with many Guatemalan farming families, the Lopez's land and resources are limited, requiring great effort to generate profitable and sustainable coffee crops each year. Through our collaboration with international non-profit organizations, Sandra and farmers like her are provided with education, training and resources necessary to help improve their coffee production and farming practices, now and in the future.

  • The Land

    The Land

    McDonald's USA and McDonald's Canada source coffee from several Central and South American countries, including Guatemala and Colombia.

    Despite its relatively small size, Guatemala boasts one of the most climatically diverse regions in the world and is well-known for quality coffee production.

  • The Trainer

    The Trainer

    Braulio is a native Guatemalan and Farmer Trainer for TechnoServe, where he educates Guatemalan coffee farmers on sustainable farming principles and practices.

    As part of McDonald's investment in a farmer technical assistance program, TechnoServe, along with the Sustainable Commodity Assistance Network (SCAN), provide critical training for coffee farmers in Central America.

    Through our collaborations with TechnoServe and SCAN, and with our investment in certified coffee purchases, (UTZ, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance), we're positioning farmers for expanded capacity of more sustainable coffee yields. All of this helps ensure our customers can continue to enjoy the consistent, flavorful coffee taste profile that they've grown to love and expect from McDonald's.

Sustainable farming ensures farmers can sell coffee at a fair price.

Reusing our Coffee Grounds

McDonald's also has aspirational goals to minimize waste and increase the amount of in-restaurant recycling to 50% by 2020. That includes coffee grounds and espresso beans, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions when they begin decomposing in a landfill. Luckily, coffee grounds make great fertilizer for gardening!

To take advantage of this valuable waste stream, McDonald's USA implemented a used coffee grounds composting program called "Good Neighbor, Good Grounds" in 2015 to reduce the amount of organic waste being sent to landfills. Through the program, participating restaurants re-bag coffee grounds and give them to community members to use in their home gardens or donate them to community gardens. This not only helps the environment, it fosters community engagement and creates connections with the McDonald's brand.

Over 1,000 McDonald's restaurants in Oklahoma, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona are now part of this program, including a new partnership between McDonald's, our franchisees and 150 statewide schools in the Arizona Department of Education School Garden Program! Watch Arizona media coverage on the program here. Recently, the US North West Region confirmed that 380 restaurants are onboard for coffee ground recycling with the community garden connection as of Spring 2016.

McDonald's Canada is planning to roll out the program in 2016. These efforts in North America build on the great momentum by many McDonald's markets in Europe to recycle or donate coffee grounds, food scraps and other kitchen waste streams. Read more about our restaurant sustainability efforts in the Planet pages.



Coffee production is just one area where McDonald’s is committed to sustainability. We’re taking bigger and bolder steps with our global network of Franchisees, suppliers and employees to lead meaningful change across our industry, our value chain and the communities we serve.

Discover the differences we're making for a more sustainable future.

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